Album Review: David Hause- Devour

Dave Hause’s new post punk album, Devour has an opening that could fittingly be described as “epic”, in the older and classier sense of the word. The way the guitar, piano, and drum line play off of each other with such reserved balance, you get the sense that Hause is intentionally (and barely) holding back this thunderous wall of sound that could be let off the chain at any moment. As the pace of the opening song Damascus steadily builds, Hause sprinkles in just enough choir to make the listener unsure of whether or not they were hearing it at all; it creates this almost terrifying expectation. You sit there waiting for the base to drop, the guitarist to shred or the vocalist to scream; there’s the carefully crafted expectation for a turn, when things get loud. But what’s odd about this album is that it never does. At its most wild, Devour is a subdued, controlled album. Hause never seems to cut loose with the music while constantly seeming to establish that he could.

Hause, of well-known Philadelphia acts Paint it Black and The Loved Ones, is something of a veteran to the alternative-punk scene. Devour is his second solo endeavor, and the emphasis on solo really comes across. Through this grungy, folkish bit of punk rock Hause places his emotions and mindset front and center, essentially using it as an opportunity to air his personal grievances with America. Original? Not exactly, but that’s hardly an issue here. The potentially clichéd subject matter is passable– even genuinely moving at times—on the basis of how genuinely it comes across.

And where the album really comes alive is in the songwriting itself. The lyrics are simultaneously coherent and poetic, walking just the right balance between ambiguity and clarity. The whole thing feels composed with a sense of craftsmanship; there’s that sense of restraint and control to it. It’s like Hause has this explosive, furious album ready to go, but dialed everything back to just the point of necessity. And while the album tends to cherry pick different qualities from different genre (vocals from indy, tone from alt-punk) it seems to grab just the right element from each and do so to just the right degree. This is a punk album that incorporates elements of pop without compromising its overall tone; the album is at least commendable for that alone, just on the basis of how rare that is these days.

Devour is an album that very easily could have been clichéd, bloated, and overdone. It incorporates so many disparate elements and attempts to do and say so much in a singular album that it’s not difficult to imagine it as an overwritten mess. But due to a sense of temperance and sincerity the whole thing works, and works well for that matter.

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